April 21st 2010

Tea Party Partisanship

The findings below are taken from our exit poll of attendees of the Tax Day Tea Party in Washington DC.  Full data and analysis can be found here, and you can take our quiz here to see how you measure up to the Tea Party.

Despite a heavily Republican presidential voting record, Tea Party attendees are reluctant to embrace the GOP today.  They are distinctly not Democrats, but they are also not extreme Republican partisans.

  • Only 43% of attendees call themselves Republican, but their presidential voting history is solidly Republican: 70% voted for John McCain in 2008, and 74% voted for George W. Bush in 2004.  However, this is not as strong a Republican showing as it was among Republicans themselves: consider that in 2004 95% of self-identified Republicans voted for Bush and in 2008 86% voted for McCain. 
  • Despite this partisan history, they are wary of partisanship moving forward: a majority (51%) of attendees say that neither party can be trusted to fix government, 69% refused to choose either the Democratic or Republican party on a generic Congressional ballot (a ballot that did include a generic “Tea Party endorsed” candidate), and only 7% say that the Republican Party represents the views of the Tea Party movement “extremely well.”  Moreover, 73% of attendees agreed that “I want to send a message to both political parties.”
  • Still they have an overt dislike of Democrats and the Democratic party: only 9% identify as a Democrat, 12% voted for Obama, 8% for Kerry, only 9% say they have the best ideas for reforming and fixing government, they garner only 6% on the generic congressional ballot, and 76% say that Democratic representation of the views of the Tea Party movement are “not at all well.”
  • In total there are three instances in which respondents were given an opportunity to specifically pick between the two parties or to choose no party at all: partisan identification, a generic congressional ballot, and a query on which party had better ideas for reforming government.  Only 13% of attendees are hard-core committed Republicans that picked the GOP at each opportunity.  Nearly half, 42%, were unwilling to commit themselves to the Republican Party for any of these questions.  At this point, Tea Partiers remain unwilling to hitch their wagons to the GOP in 2010.

- Alex Lundry

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